Nando’s, a restaurant chain, fights the chicken shortage

LONDON – If Oliver Twist sang a modernized version of ‘Food, Glorious Food’, it could be re-appropriated as’ Nando’s, glorious Nando’s!

Since the Johannesburg-based company restaurant chain opened its first store in London in 1992, its signature peri peri chicken has won over British consumers.

Marinated with a variation of Afro-Portuguese spices, including lemon and herbs for the most sensitive palates, Nando’s sacred flame-grilled chicken – which he proudly declares on his website is neither American nor chlorinated – is a British culinary institution.

But in the latest round of food shortages to hit UK supermarkets and restaurants – exacerbated by a perfect storm of Brexit fallout, a drop in truck drivers and the coronavirus pandemic – Nando’s announced on Tuesday that it had to closing around 50 of its stores in England, Scotland and Wales temporarily due to a chicken shortage.

UK customers across the country were greeted last week by signs displayed in the windows of sadly empty branch windows. The source of the poultry disaster? Problems with the supply chain, according to a spokesperson.

“The UK food industry has seen disruption in its supply chain in recent weeks, due to staff shortages and Covid isolations, and a number of our restaurants have been affected,” Nando’s said in a statement. response to Times.

Nazish Zeb, 38, who lives in Solihull, West Midlands, was desperate, when her son arrived home on Wednesday, to announce that Nando’s usual Birmingham branch – one of the few in the city with halal chicken prepared according to Islamic Guidelines – has been temporarily closed. “I’m a chicken lover,” she said in an interview. “It’s a shame, I can’t tell you how much we miss.”

Other disappointed customers took to Twitter to voice their grievances, to which Nando’s responded by apologizing that its supply chain was experiencing “a bit of a ‘mare’, like a nightmare.

Among the culprits is the “pingdemic,” which has seen hundreds of thousands of people “go nuts” by a government-sponsored phone app since July, asking them to self-isolate for 10 days because they were in prison. contact with someone who had tested positive for the coronavirus. UK supermarkets and businesses have taken the brunt of its consequences, with staff shortages and vacant shelves reported across the country.

KFC issued a statement on Twitter on August 11, warning customers that some items may not be available due to unspecified “disruptions”.

“I remember when my local KFC ran out of chicken,” said Saffi, a Nando employee, describing the great chicken shortage of 2018, which prompted rival KFC to close nearly two-thirds of its UK branches due to similar problems with a new delivery. Contract. “I can understand people’s frustration. Saffi asked to be identified by his first name only because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

“Fortunately, the branch where I work, we have been operating as usual,” he said. “The suppliers had problems delivering products to us. It’s not like Nando’s done anything wrong.

In England, where a third of its restaurants are, Nando’s appeal transcends class, boasting of devotees including actor Dev Patel, model Bella Hadid and even Prince William.

“One of the cool things about Nando’s is that it reaches the restaurant owner demographic, unlike almost any of the other street chains,” said British food critic Jay Rayner. “It transcends race.”

“Cheeky Nando’s”, a popular phrase that British consumers of Nando’s often use, is permanently anchored in the British vernacular. The existence of a mythological “black card” of Nando – supposed to grant its owners an unlimited supply of Nando’s chicken – is happily speculated by Internet users. A Nando’s spokesperson would neither confirm nor deny its existence.

“The proposal, grilled chicken, salads, fries, puts it as one of the healthiest on Main Street, if they got rid of those bottomless sodas,” Mr. Rayner said. “It’s a very attractive price. They do it very, very well.

It should come as no surprise then that many British publications have their own “homemade recipes of peri peri chicken, although they are of little consolation to those who thirst for Nando.

The chicken shortage may not just be a temporary problem. Britain is grappling with a national truck driver shortage and labor shortage in its meat industry. The coronavirus is part of the problem, but so are the new immigration and paperwork rules that came into effect with Brexit. According to the Financial Times, approximately 60 percent of UK poultry workers come from EU countries.

“The fact that this has happened should come as no surprise,” said Mr Rayner, who three years ago predicted a national food crisis in Britain’s supply chain after Brexit..

Nick Allen, chief executive of the British Meat Processors Association, which represents the majority of companies working in the red meat industry, said Brexit left the country’s entire meat industry vulnerable because it reduced immigration.

“When Brexit took place on January 1, 2021, access to most workers in the EU was brutally cut,” he said. “Since then, many EU workers who were in the UK have not been able to travel during Covid. Many of them are now returning to their countries of origin, but they are not coming back. “

Thusday, The Guardian British Poultry Council chief executive Richard Griffiths reported this month writing a letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel calling on the government to relax immigration rules.

Christmas preparations should already be underway at meat factories, but Mr Allen said shortages were inevitable. With vacancy rates in meat factories now reaching 15 percent, a Christmas poultry crisis could loom. “Currently there is limited staff for this, so we are about six weeks late. “

At least for now, there is a bit of a breathing space on the horizon. All of Nando’s restaurants were due to reopen on Saturday.

Perhaps then, Nando’s devotees in Britain can resume their love affair with a restaurant where, as noted by British food writer Ruby Tandoh, an “might just order the same every time you come here until you die”.

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